Legacies: stereotypes, racism and the civil rights movement

Zulu with a Black Eye

Howard Somerville (1873-1952), about 1920
Oil on canvas

Object number 6.20/2
Given by Joseph Smith, 1920

See this object at Gallery Oldham This object may not always be on display. Please check with the venue before visiting.

Zulu with a Black Eye

We do not know the story behind this painting, and do not know why the man has a black eye. Though this was painted long after slavery was abolished, the artist, Howard Somerville, has used portrait conventions which date back to the period of slavery. He is shown wearing a loose open-necked shirt which was traditionally associated with manual work. A European gentleman would never be portrayed in such a state of ‘undress’. He is also wearing jewellery, which was considered ‘exotic’ for a man.

This information was provided by curators from Gallery Oldham.